Kirby Miles: Gingerly
Interviewed by Brooke Hoffert
Kirby Miles’s upcoming exhibition Gingerly at FEMME gallery in Nashville, Tennessee opens on December 10th. Brooke Hoffert asked Miles some questions about their practice, queerness, and their inspirations.
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I am a queer woman living and working in Chattanooga, TN. I got my BFA from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2017-can’t say enough wonderful things about this program! I then went on to receive my MFA in 2019 from Cranbrook Academy. I am married to the love of my life-we’ve been together for nearly 17 years (I was 15 when we began dating!) We were the first openly queer couple in our rural North Georgia high school which influenced the way I think about the world. We share our lives with 3 cats and 1 pup; Eliot, Salem, Iris, and Louis V.
After I graduated in 2019 I wasn’t too sure about where to go – I had finally made it out of the southeast and lived in (very diverse) Detroit. I did feel the need to come back, however, as the art community is like no other. I did not know if this would be a permanent situation. The pandemic happened and at the time I was involved in an experimental artist collective that folded. I was approached by another gallery in town to join as it was becoming a collective. This proved incredible and I now curate there still and love every moment of it.
I also have a non-art job (need that stability!) and work in tech at Squarespace as an advisor. This remote role affords me full-time in the studio as well.
Can you tell us about the process of creating your work? What is your artistic routine when working?
Whoa. This question comes up a lot for me as my work is heavily processed-based. I have always been sort of a mad scientist in the studio-pushing materials as far as they will go. I hit things with hammers, crouch in weird positions to drip or cover areas within the work, throw things, and sit for hours individually placing gems/glitter. Occasionally, I will even paint too! I talk to my work a lot as well, urging it on or telling it to wait. The process is tenderly violent and intimate.
My routine is always the same-I have a studio detached from my home and walk out there-open the door and get to work. My headphones are always on-I have several studio playlists depending on the vibe of the work. I want to finish something each day so I will make ‘fast’ or immediate work first then grapple with the more tedious things. I have also recently incorporated photography into the studio which has been challenging and fun.
What artwork have you seen recently that has resonated with you?
-Anything at all by Marilyn Minter
-Pixel Forest-Pipilotti Rist
-Pink Path-Tracy Helena Thomason
-The Night Mare-Brom
What inspires you?
I have a wicked long list/grid of what I am thinking about within my work. Some of the ones that are currently floating to the surface are Butoh (dance+idealogy), multifaceted femininity, fertility, mythology, poison, wounds, and candy.
How does your queerness interact with your art?
This article by Maya Lotus kind of encapsulates how I feel my queerness interacts with my work: https://www.sociomix.com/diaries/entertainment/it-came-from-the-closet-how-horror-is-queer/1624905518
Additionally, I would say that I create alternate world narratives within my work where queering of what it means to ‘be’ something resides. How do we think about queerness outside of the body? That’s what I am interested in.
What would you like the future of the queer art community to look like?
Normal! I know that’s such a strange thing to say but I do hope we get to the point where coming out isn’t necessary and that just being queer comes without question or debate.
What is one of your goals as an artist?
To continually make work that is evolving and that surprises myself.
Is there anything in the pipeline you would like to talk about?
I have a solo show in January at Wavelength Space in Chattanooga and one in August at Bells Gallery in Dothan, AL. I will also be a resident at Stove Works Residency this March. Along with that I know I will be curating some weirdo shows in 2023 as well!
Kirby Miles: @kirby_miles_art
Brooke Hoffert: @brooke_haileyh